Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Silica in Food
Name: Janet H.
Status: student
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Thursday, November 28, 2002

I am an older student taking a Geology class. My professor believes there is a large amount of St. Peter's silica sand delivered regularly to the Chicago area, specifically to candy manufacturers. I have been researching the uses of this specific type of pure sandstone, and find no evidence that is used in consumable products. Help me please, to find out if it is used in the manufacturing process, or if it is some how used at one of the many candy companies IN their products.

Fine particle size silica, or its chemical cousin sodium silicoaluminate are used in a lot of food products. Especially, powdered food products. A primary use of the silica is to act as a flow agent, anti-packing agent, and water scavenger. Common table salt is a common example. Dissolve a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of water and you will observe that the solution is cloudy, not clear. This cloudiness is not undissolved salt, it is the silica-type mineral added to keep the salt flowing in humid conditions.

I do not know about its use in candy manufacturing first hand, but would not be surprised to find that it is used, again as a manufacturing additive. If you are making candy and dumping hundreds of pounds of sugar per minute down some chute into a processing vat, you need to keep the sugar from clumping up, as well as stay a fluid on a hot summer day in Chicago. A trace of fine particle silica will do the trick.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the General Topics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory